Online school has become increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional schooling methods for K-12 students. Students can attend classes anytime they have Internet access, which gives them a lot of flexibility when it comes to their coursework. With this flexibility, students can become easily distracted or uninterested. Whether your child is transitioning from public school or well into their online curriculum, here are six tips for keeping students involved in online school year-round.
1. Encourage Frequent Breaks
In a traditional classroom setting, teachers and students take frequent breaks throughout the day. Taking regular short breaks gives students time to reset and have mental downtime. Students may have different preferences for both how and when they take their breaks. These breaks can be recess, lunch, or simply taking 15 minutes to do a fun activity, such as draw or throw a ball around. A great way to spend this time is getting physical activity by walking the dog or playing outside.
Every student will likely have a different preference on when and how long they take their break, especially if they are older. For example, students can take breaks for 15 minutes every hour and a half, or for 30 minutes after the coursework for a given subject or unit is completed. Parents should chat with their students to find a routine that aligns with their preferences.
2. Join Online and Homeschool Groups
Online and homeschool groups are available in most major cities. These groups are a wonderful way for children to meet peers who also partake in at-home learning. Online forums and support groups are a great resource for parents to get tips and tricks for online programs and homeschooling techniques as well. For all children, strong support systems are key drivers in their academic success, so it is vital that online students still get this even though they are not interacting with teachers, counselors, and peers daily.
3. Participate in Extracurriculars
Students who attend traditional public or private schools interact with peers regularly, but for online students, it requires more effort to get an appropriate amount of social interaction. Joining “after-school activities” like clubs and sports allows children to make friends and interact with individuals in their age group. When students are younger, they need more parent involvement to get involved with activities outside of their schoolwork.
Students who transfer to online school from a traditional classroom may find it difficult to adapt. Staying connected to old friends and scheduling play dates on the weekends will help with the adjustment. For older students, encourage them to reach out to old friends and get involved with activities and sports that they enjoy.
4. Create a Conducive Learning Environment
Creating a learning space in the home will help the student remain interested in their online courses as well as help them retain information. The space should have limited distractions so that the student stays engaged with the lessons and assignments. This area could be a specific room in the home or a spot in a den or basement to put a desk. However, it should not be in the child’s room because there are likely too many distractions. Parents should ensure the room has comfortable chairs, appropriate temperatures, and reliable Internet as well.
1. Give Appropriate Feedback
Online school does not require much involvement from the parent; however, since an online student does not engage with a teacher regularly, positive encouragement can go a long way in a student’s involvement with their online coursework. Without their work being recognized, students may start to slack off and not perform as well as they normally would in their courses. Although online teachers may grade and leave comments, students don’t actually hear feedback from an authority figure. Rewarding excellent work and discussing any challenges will help with keeping students involved in online school.
2. Find the Best Schedule
One of the best aspects of online school is the flexibility that it provides students and their families. Often, students can work at their own pace with no pressure from deadlines. Students attending online schools do not have to have the same 8:00 to 3:00 schedule that most traditional schools have. Rather, students can work at times when they feel most productive. For some students, this may be from 8:00 to 12:00 Monday through Thursday. For others, they may prefer to work during the evenings and weekends. Finding a schedule that works best for the student will prevent them from becoming disinterested in their schooling.
With frequent brain breaks, positive feedback, and flexible schedules, students are more likely to stay interested in their online courses. Otherwise, they may become bored, or worse burnt out, because of long, mundane school days with few encouraging interactions.